I'm crushed that Monk (Friday, 8 p.m., USA) will end after this season. As if to make me feel worse, the detective series begins its final run with a classic episode: funny, poignant and suspenseful. USA, you really know how to hurt a guy.
Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), our obsessive-compulsive hero, is uncharacteristically ecstatic. He waits in line at a bookstore to see his childhood idol, Christine Rapp (Elizabeth Perkins), who's written a memoir about her years on a Brady Bunch-style TV series. During his own unhappy childhood, Monk felt closer to the wholesome fictional clan than he did to his own family. He's in for a big letdown when Christine - a thinly disguised Maureen McCormick - turns out to be your basic Hollywood degenerate with a not-ready-for-primetime sexual history. Shalhoub squeezes every drop of comedy out of Monk's disillusionment, abetted by Traylor Howard as his sympathetic assistant.
In the meantime, there's a mystery to solve as Christine is stalked by a killer. Will Monk set aside his disappointment to crack the case? Will the old TV series offer a clue to the stalker's identity? Will I break down and cry when Monk concludes its run?
Sex in the Ancient World
Friday, 9 pm (History)
This series uses archeological discoveries and forensic historical research to explore the sex lives of ancient civilizations. This week's show focuses on Egypt, uncovering a piece of 3,000-year-old pornography on papyrus. The problem was that papyrus pages were big and thick, making it hard to hide your porn collection from your ancient parents.
Sunday, 8 pm (ABC)
When I first heard the title, I figured this new series had finally pushed reality TV to the limit, throwing contestants into a real shark tank to fend for themselves. But no, it's set in the business world, and the "sharks" are five multimillionaire tycoons who judge would-be entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurs must convince the tycoons to put up cash to fund their new business ideas. If the tycoons aren't interested, they harshly dismiss the contestants. If they are interested, they move in and try to wrangle a piece of the pie.
Something tells me that being thrown into a real shark tank might be preferable to doing business with these particular predators.
There Goes the Neighborhood
Sunday, 8 pm (CBS)
In this reality competition, eight families are trapped in their suburban community by a 20-foot wall. They're cut off from the outside world with no computers, TV or electricity. They compete in games against their neighbors for a $250,000 prize.
I don't know if There Goes the Neighborhood will be a hit. But I do know from science fiction novels and The Simpsons Movie that walling people into their own communities can have disastrous consequences. Stop before it's too late!
Teen Choice Awards
Monday, 7 pm (Fox)
Jennifer Love Hewitt and Luke Perry have given way to Vanessa Hudgens and Robert Pattinson, but the Teen Choice Awards is still doing what it's always done: sucking money out of teens' pockets with crappy pop-culture products, all the while making them feel like it's their "choice." Hey kids, you can pick between Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato - now that's empowerment!
For this year's show, viewers can send in dares for the Jonas Brothers, who will pick one to do during the broadcast. Here's my dare for the boys: Admit that you are not a band, but a marketing concept. Then laugh really hard at your fans - in public, I mean, rather than behind closed doors as you usually do.
The Nine Lives of Marion Barry
Monday, 8 pm (HBO)
Marion Barry comes off surprisingly well in this documentary - at least in the early scenes. The troubled Washington, D.C., politician began his career as a civil rights firebrand in the 1960s, boldly working to enfranchise the city's African American citizens. After Barry was elected mayor in 1978, some hailed him as the successor to Martin Luther King Jr. He gave D.C. reason to hope...and then gave it reason to weep.
In the late '80s, Barry's administration spun out of control, as did the mayor himself, succumbing to every form of temptation. He was finally arrested for smoking crack and sentenced to six months in federal prison. That looked like the end of his political career, but he emerged from prison to win an astonishing fourth term as mayor. After a hiatus, he shocked the world again by winning a seat on D.C.'s city council. You can't keep this reprobate down, even though many would like to.
"He needs to find him a rock somewhere to crawl under and vegetate and die," snarls one D.C. voter.
After watching The Nine Lives of Marion Barry, you wonder if even death would keep Barry from running for D.C. political office.
Monsterquest: Killer Chimps in America
Wednesday, 8 pm (History)
Yet another reason to move to France.